The Big Traveling Potluck 2014

It’s hard to find the words to express what an amazing experience this last Potluck was. For those who have never attended, I like to describe it as a non-conference conference. Yes, there are keynote speakers. Incredible ones, in fact. The topics, however, are not traditional. Instead of covering SEO and monetization, the themes at the Big Traveling Potluck are much bigger, forcing us to look at ways to improve our lives, and, thus, our writing and photography.

I had the pleasure of being the official photographer for the Potluck. This was the third I’ve photographed and it was such a wonderful experience. I hope these pictures illustrate the love, the passion, and all the incredible food.

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KristenMay 4, 2014 - 2:56 am

I always love your BP recaps and photos. I haven’t been back since the very first one but you always make me wish I could have!

AshleyMay 4, 2014 - 10:49 am

Thanks for letting me relive the weekend again! Beautiful photos + great to finally meet! :)

The Big Potluck 2014May 4, 2014 - 12:03 pm

[...] if we were not able to join your workshops! See also the wonderful recap Brian Samuels did in his blog [scroll down to see my face when I was so close to the avocado/pistachio gelato!] Hope to see all [...]

Brandon @ Kitchen KonfidenceMay 4, 2014 - 1:30 pm

Awesome recap Brian!!! I loved reliving the weekend as well :)

CherylMay 4, 2014 - 8:12 pm

Brian, you and your lens did something pretty phenomenal: distilled the essence of an expansive weekend into a series of stunning visuals. Thank you for all your hard work and tireless documenting. Round of applause, and cheers to our new friendship!

JordanMay 5, 2014 - 12:41 am

Your photos are simply stunning. Thank you for this beautiful photo album of a fantastic weekend. It was great to meet you in person and we hope to see you before next year’s event!

i have never been to these conferences but thank you so much for the pictures…it is always nice to see familiar faces and hopefully i will attend it someday and meet all the wonderful people i admire.

Jen @ My KItchen AddictionMay 5, 2014 - 4:53 pm

Loved seeing all of your photos from the weekend… They are stunning, as always. Seeing this made me really wish I had been there!

Gerry @ Foodness GraciousMay 6, 2014 - 11:44 am

Fantastic pics Brian and it was great seeing you again! Looking at these pictures just makes me want to be back on the hill :)

Fork In The Road FoodsMay 6, 2014 - 5:35 pm

Beautiful photos! It was so fun to look through them all!

EthanMay 7, 2014 - 12:48 am

Next best thing to being there is seeing your pics. Thanks Bri.

bev @ bevcooksMay 7, 2014 - 1:15 pm

LOOOOOOOVETHEEEEEEEESEEEEAAAAAA.

Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love.May 8, 2014 - 1:23 am

Brian, these photos are beautiful and you captured the event and feel of the weekend so perfectly! Thank you!

ShainaMay 8, 2014 - 10:14 am

I was so disappointed not to be there this year. It looks wonderful, and I’m sure it was, as always. Lovely photographs, Brian.

Diane {Created by Diane}May 11, 2014 - 7:21 pm

what a beautiful recap Brian, it was so great seeing you :)

Mimi AvocadoJune 1, 2014 - 9:38 pm

Just found your recap…perfect! Loved all your photos.

Citrus Margarita with Lemon, Lime and Ginger Rim

Citrus Margarita with Lemon, Lime and Ginger RimCitrus Margarita with Lemon, Lime and Ginger RimCitrus Margarita with Lemon, Lime and Ginger RimCitrus Margarita with Lemon, Lime and Ginger RimCitrus Margarita with Lemon, Lime and Ginger Rim

Citrus Margarita with Lemon, Lime and Ginger RimWe got spoiled by a few days of really beautiful weather last week. But just before I left for California, it started getting cold again and, when I returned, nothing had changed. It’s pretty crisp out there. You don’t mind a few minutes walking at a fast clip, but any more than that isn’t much fun.  That didn’t stop me from spending a little time in our garden. Mind you, I wasn’t actually gardening. Just looking to see what progress had been made while I was away. Every time I look, something else starts to come up. I can’t wait to see it all looks like at its peak.

Even though I swore that I’d take a day to recuperate from a weekend spent photographing the Potluck, I couldn’t help but take my camera out to get some pictures. I’ve been playing around with different flavored rims for my margaritas and one of my favorites is this one that’s made, very simply, by combining sugar with a ton of lemon and lime zest. I sprinkle that on a plate and add powdered ginger and a touch of Kosher salt. It just takes the whole margarita experience to a whole new level.

Speaking of margaritas… let’s chat about that. When it comes to margaritas, I’m kind of a traditionalist. Well, most of the time I am. If using fresh juice, I’m open to interpretation. Store-bought mix, however, is off limits. Who needs it? Not me! Yes, yes, I know limes are expensive right now. So, if you want, use grapefruit. Just please don’t use that cloyingly sweet pre-made mix. This one definitely isn’t traditional, but it’s just as refreshing and still the perfect balance of tart, sweet, and, with that special rim, just a little salty.

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KathrynApril 30, 2014 - 4:13 am

I love the sound of the hint of ginger in the rim – I’ve always firmly believed that the rim is the best part of a margarita.

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla SugarApril 30, 2014 - 7:40 am

Loving that rim (and the whole drink) big time! This recipe is lovely!

TieghanApril 30, 2014 - 9:02 am

That rim sounds awesome! very fun!

Laura (Blogging Over Thyme)April 30, 2014 - 9:09 am

These sound so, so good! The rim alone with the ginger and citrus sounds amazing. Beautiful pictures, as always, Brian!

Kelli @ The Corner KitchenApril 30, 2014 - 9:59 am

Love this margarita! The lemon-lime-ginger rim totally makes this amazing!

Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and HealthApril 30, 2014 - 10:01 am

i want this drink just because of the rim.

Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabblesApril 30, 2014 - 11:34 am

Agreed. Homemade margaritas using mixes should be outlawed! I love the description of your sugar rimmer…must try this!

ShainaApril 30, 2014 - 1:26 pm

I’m a big fan of the sweet and salty rim. These sound perfect, and they work wonders on my bad attitude about the weather (snow yesterday), too. I am looking forward to actually gardening if only the weather would cooperate. I can’t wait to see what pops up in yours. Hopefully a lot of ready-to-be-photographed beauty.

Russell at Chasing DeliciousApril 30, 2014 - 6:27 pm

Umm, yes please! I will take 2 of these!

Brandon @ Kitchen KonfidenceApril 30, 2014 - 7:36 pm

Sign me up for THIS. You can’t go wrong with a good ginger rim ;) !

MonetApril 30, 2014 - 8:51 pm

Citrus sugar? I could probably just eat that off the plate. Beautifully done Brian.

That sounds like the perfect finish to a refreshing margarita!

LauraMay 1, 2014 - 11:46 am

Oh that ginger in the rim sounds just right. I’m a margarita traditionalist big time and this limepocalypse thing is scaring the crap out of me.

Side note: loved seeing the Potluck fun times on your IG!

AdriMay 1, 2014 - 10:54 pm

What a terrific article, and what a divine drink. Cheers!

Nadine Joy KurlandMay 2, 2014 - 9:58 pm

Why when I try to pin this do I get “about blank”?

Alison LewisMay 5, 2014 - 12:51 pm

great looking! Happy Cinco De Mayo!

This sounds so refreshing – love the citrus!

[...] Citrus Margarita with Lemon, Lime and Ginger Rim  -  A Thought for Food [...]

Boulder LocavoreMay 18, 2014 - 12:48 pm

I love this for summer Brian!

[...] Citrus Margarita with Lemon, Lime and Ginger Rim {A Thought for Food} [...]

White Bean and Sardine Stew

White Bean and Sardine Stew

Last week was filled with a lot of firsts. Not just for us, but for Maki too. It’s taken some time for her to get settled into the house. Even now, every time we leave, she runs to the door wondering, hoping, that we’ll take her back to our old place. It’s not that she’s uncomfortable in her new surroundings, just a bit confused. We haven’t made things easy either. In an effort to keep our brand new couch furless, she’s been barred from climbing aboard. It’s a new thing we’re trying and it probably won’t last very long. Not with those sad looks she gives us every time we  scold her. What Maki has been enjoying is our yard. Full of sunlight, it’s the perfect place for napping. And then there are the smells — oh, the smells!!! — which never get old. When we go out for walks,  she’s excited by every turn.

Of course, now that we’re getting back into a routine, I’m screwing things up by heading out to Southern California to photograph The Big Potluck. I look forward to these events because I know that, by the end, something in me will change. It’s not always a big thing… but just being around my peers, people who share a love for food, for writing and photography it, ignites my creative spirit. I’ll come home with stories for Eric and, hopefully, a little tan as well.

We opened the Cape house last weekend and, while much of it was spent getting things in order, I also found some time to lounge outside and catch up on some neglected magazines. I finally got to check out the seafood issue Saveur created and I instantly fell for the sardine recipes they printed. While I have every intention on trying all of them, I started with this white bean and sardine stew. If you’re wondering if this is a recipe to write home about, well, let me tell you, it’s wonderful. Even those not inclined to try sardines could get behind this hearty dish.

White Bean and Sardine Stew

White Bean and Sardine Stew

White Bean and Sardine Stew

White Bean and Sardine Stew

White Bean and Sardine Stew

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naomiApril 23, 2014 - 12:57 pm

I have all the ingredients for this in my pantry. Love the recipe–can’t wait to make it!

GailApril 23, 2014 - 5:09 pm

WOW Brian!!! Not many people can photo a fork in a can of sardines and make it as sexy as you do.

Can’t wait to make this recipe!

TieghanApril 23, 2014 - 9:09 pm

Pantry meals like this are the best and I personally love sardines and white beans!! Mmm!

AdriApril 23, 2014 - 11:30 pm

This dish sounds wonderful. And good luck with the couch!

Letty FlattApril 24, 2014 - 3:41 am

My sardine eating hubby is going to love this stew. Great combo! Fast on the table. (I like sardines too but I don’t put them in my sandwich every day!)

bev @ bevcooksApril 24, 2014 - 9:09 am

I loooooooove sardiiiiineeeesssaaaaaaa.

MonetApril 24, 2014 - 11:34 pm

I don’t know if I would have ever thought I’d be craving a sardine stew…but you work magic, Brian, because now I most certainly am! This looks delicious. I hope you are having a wonderful time in California. Can’t wait to hear more about it!

JoanneApril 25, 2014 - 7:07 am

Aww poor Maki!! She just wants to cuddle with you guys! Actually, I am pro dogs not being allowed on couches because, as an allergic person, I find that they retain hair like no other.

This stew is quite the beauty. You’ve made sardines look like a work of art, which is no easy feat!

FrancescaApril 27, 2014 - 10:38 am

This looks AMAZING. the combination of sardines and fennel brings me back to Sicilian summers <3

[...] Inspiration: A Thought for Food [...]

Chocolate “Forgotten Cookies”

Chocolate "Forgotten Cookies" (chocolate meringue cookies) via A Thought for Food

This blog has become such a part of my life that when I don’t post, it feels like something is missing. I knew that with the move, any projects, both personal and professional, would have to be put on hold. Through it all, though, my mind hasn’t stopped churning out ideas for recipes.

Moving into our house, I’m inspired to get back to the roots of why I started this site. There are recipes from my childhood I’ve been wanting to share, but, for whatever reason, put them aside for other creations. These “Forgotten Cookies” are so simple, both in the ingredients and in its preparation, that I wonder why I don’t make them more often. Oh, right… now I remember. Because I’d be eating them all day. Now, comparatively, this is a pretty healthy dessert. Egg white, sugar, a bit of vanilla extract and, for my version here, a little cocoa powder.

My mom would make these for us as children… in fact, it was one of the first things I learned how to bake. Usually, she’d keep them plain (no cocoa) or add mini chocolate chips. I’ve modified the recipe slightly. What’s fun about these is that once you throw them in the oven, you just turn off the heat and leave them in there. You can leave the house to run errands or make them before heading to bed.

Chocolate "Forgotten Cookies" (chocolate meringue cookies)  via A Thought for Food

Chocolate "Forgotten Cookies" (chocolate meringue cookies)  via A Thought for Food

Chocolate "Forgotten Cookies" (chocolate meringue cookies)  via A Thought for Food

Chocolate "Forgotten Cookies" (chocolate meringue cookies)  via A Thought for Food

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Nazia @ This Baker Girl BlogsApril 15, 2014 - 1:58 am

I’ve never made cookies where I’ve had to leave them for hours in an oven before … but the results look so fab I shall have to give this a go!

JulieDApril 15, 2014 - 8:46 am

Love the memories tied to these cookies!

TieghanApril 15, 2014 - 9:02 am

Family or childhood recipes are always my favorites. These look so good!

Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and HealthApril 15, 2014 - 10:39 am

these look so good and love the simplicity of it. i hope you guys are settled into your new place :)

Jen @ My KItchen AddictionApril 15, 2014 - 10:41 am

Family recipes are the best ones… Thanks for sharing your memories with us! I was reminded of very similar cookies that my grandmother makes as I was reading this… She usually sprinkles mini chocolate chips on the tops of hers. As a kid, I always picked all of the chocolate chips off of the top. :)

danielleApril 15, 2014 - 10:58 am

I love a good handed down family recipe – these sounds like a great treat.

LirenApril 15, 2014 - 12:29 pm

I’m so glad your stand mixer has been unpacked and is finding its own place in your new home, Brian. Looks like it’s been put to good use – there’s nothing like reaching back into your memories and finding nostalgia – it makes a house a home.

KatrinaApril 15, 2014 - 2:23 pm

Bah! These look so yummy! I love a solid chocolate cookie recipe like this :)

cheriApril 15, 2014 - 8:02 pm

Love recipes with a story or memory background. Beautiful pics!

Greg HenryApril 15, 2014 - 9:48 pm

My mom used to make something similar to these we called them meringues. They were pink though and I don’t know why. GREG

MonetApril 15, 2014 - 11:27 pm

Recipes from our childhood are the best. They stick with us…sometimes deep within us! These cookies look lovely Brian. Thank you for sharing them.

JoanneApril 17, 2014 - 9:12 am

I love the name behind these, and the fact that they kind of are forgotten in the oven! Makes them all the easier to make in the morning and then come home for a midday snack.

KristenApril 17, 2014 - 10:05 am

These look like they would melt in your mouth!
I’m so excited and over the top thrilled for your family to be in your own home now! Like grownups!! :) Such an exciting chapter you’ve opened.

naomiApril 17, 2014 - 12:03 pm

Such a great name for a cookie. Those look perfectly crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside!

Doug WatsonApril 20, 2014 - 2:51 am

Cool idea!

ShainaApril 23, 2014 - 5:56 pm

I love that you’re getting back to your original reasons for starting the site. I think it’s easy to get sidetracked by all the “stuff” happening in the middle, and reflecting on your purpose is necessary from time to time. I can’t wait to see how you make your house your home, and these cookies look delightful. I’m looking forward to sharing them with my kids soon.

bev @ bevcooksApril 24, 2014 - 9:11 am

Dude, these are stunners.

Barbara LevitanApril 25, 2014 - 6:20 pm

definitely meringues

Chef isJune 17, 2014 - 9:33 pm

I used Dutch Cocoa & the fluffy meringue turned liquid. Do you know why?

Deborah BoyerJune 25, 2014 - 4:02 pm

My Grandmom made these every holiday. Yes she made them pink and some green for easter. But she didn’t make them chocolate though, she would dip the bottoms in melted Baker’s Semisweet Chocolate then dust the tops so lightly with cocoa and only for Easter and Christmas. she had two cookies that I loved..the meringues and a cream cheese cookie that had a preserve filling. On weekends we would make them together! To this day I still make them for my family. And will soon get my grandchildren involved in helping making them. Thanks for the memories!!!

The Future of Junk Food

The Future of Junk Food (photos by Brian Samuels)

The Future of Junk Food (photos by Brian Samuels)

A few weeks ago I was asked by KitchenSurfing to photograph a pop up dinner they helped organize with local chefs Samuel Monsour and Mark O’Leary. The idea behind the dinner was to have them present their take on junk food: Fritos with duck, Brussels sprouts, and blue cheese. Handi-snack with foie gras, pear and Campari. A Snickers bar stuffed with chicken liver, viet caramel, and peanuts. And a Filet-O-Fish with crab, uni, and squid ink buns. There were six dishes total, each paired with wine, beer, and cocktails.

There will be more of these “The Future of Junk Food” events throughout the year, so if you’re in the area, I highly recommend checking out one of these memorable dinners.

The Future of Junk Food (photos by Brian Samuels)

The Future of Junk Food (photos by Brian Samuels)

"Fritos" at The Future of Junk Food (photos by Brian Samuels)The Future of Junk Food (photos by Brian Samuels)The Future of Junk Food (photos by Brian Samuels)"Snickers" at The Future of Junk Food (photos by Brian Samuels)

The Future of Junk Food (photos by Brian Samuels)

The Future of Junk Food (photos by Brian Samuels)

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TieghanApril 7, 2014 - 9:11 am

This place look so cool!! Love all those photos!

sue/the view from great islandApril 7, 2014 - 1:52 pm

This is such a kick — I’m inspired! The Fritos with duck and Brussel’s sprouts has promise…

Tess @ Tips on Healthy LivingApril 7, 2014 - 3:48 pm

A Snickers bar stuffed with chicken liver? My gut tells me that’s disgusting, but I’m intrigued. Was it good?

Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabblesApril 7, 2014 - 8:39 pm

Wow. Some I can definitely see myself trying. Some, not so much. But it’s all def interesting. Great photos!

MonetApril 7, 2014 - 11:44 pm

Oh my goodness! How much fun to attend…and how much fun to photograph! Those snicker “bars” are incredible! Thank you for sharing, sweet friend! Wish I could go!

JoanneApril 8, 2014 - 7:33 am

I LOVE this concept! And I really hope “junk food” is moving in this direction. :P

Cubic Zirconia GreenApril 9, 2014 - 12:17 am

Great Picture. it is really interesting, I hope everybody lick this Post.

Name change in Tamil Nadu GazetteApril 9, 2014 - 12:20 am

Thanks for sharing wonderful information, it is really nice information.

JulieDApril 10, 2014 - 1:28 pm

Wow, this looks amazing!!

AnonymousApril 11, 2014 - 3:26 pm

OMG- I love this post, especially the stuffed snickers bar one!!

Heidi @foodiecrushApril 14, 2014 - 1:46 pm

Okay, now I need to start getting more creative with my secret junk food drawer.

Spicy Squid and Mango Salad

Spicy Squid and Mango Salad
Spicy Mango and Squid Salad

Spicy Mango and Squid Salad

We closed on our house last week!!! (I think that deserved more than a single exclamation point) After we did the walk through and signed a gazillion documents, Eric and I went back and had a quiet moment together. There was Prosecco consumed out on the front porch. We got to meet a few of our neighbors, all of whom greeted us warmly. Now we begin the process of moving. We immediately started moving fragile items and the massive amounts of photography props just to make room for more boxes.  Next week, the movers come which, along with hiring a painter, was one of the smartest things we could have done in this whole process. Those cookbooks are heavy!

Despite having no furniture in our house, we managed to throw our first dinner party on Sunday. Ok, so we took in Thai food and ate on the kitchen floor, but it was still a lot of fun. And we drank some delicious wine (thanks to Eric’s brother and sister-in-law). My heart melted a little when our niece came up to me and asked me if this was our new home. Seriously, precious.

This weekend will be spent in NJ hanging with my mom as she turns the big 6-0 (sorry, Mom, I had to share!). For months, she kept telling me that it was crazy to come down in the middle of the move. But celebrating this milestone… well, there’s no way we are missing this.

Spicy Mango and Squid Salad

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JoanneApril 3, 2014 - 7:49 am

I am ABSURDLY happy and excited for you guys!!! It must be so good to feel like you’re HOME. Because you are. :)

TieghanApril 3, 2014 - 9:01 am

I am so excited for guys! It sounds like you have already made some awesome memories in your new house and I am sure there will be many more to come.
Have fun celebrating with your mom this weekend! Oh and this salad is so pretty! I love mangos, but have never tried squid. Theres a first time for everything though!

Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabblesApril 3, 2014 - 10:23 am

Absolutely gorgeous salad, and congrats on the house!!

Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and HealthApril 3, 2014 - 10:51 am

such a beautiful looking salad..and im so excited for you both to create new memories in your home now. when i first move into my new apartment, i didnt have any furniture either so we sat on the floor, watched youtube and enjoyed Chinese takeout it was one of the best sleep i ever had after all that tiredness and feeling relief i guess :)

ShainaApril 3, 2014 - 12:14 pm

Such a gorgeous dish. I have been loving mango in everything lately. I am so thrilled for you both on the house purchase, and I can’t wait to see what you do in the space to make it your own.

Kellie @ The Suburban SoapboxApril 4, 2014 - 8:19 am

Congratulations on your new home! I hope it’s filled with lots of love, laughter and happiness! Enjoy the birthday celebration and thank you for this salad. It’s gorgeous, I can’t wait to try it…I’m one of the few people I know that loves squid even when it’s not deep fried.

Congrats on your new home and your mom’s birthday! Love everything about this salad – I’ve had squid salad at restaurants but haven’t tried making it at home before.

LirenApril 4, 2014 - 9:13 am

Brian, I am so so happy for you! Milestone after milestone, keep the prosecco flowing – I’ll be thinking of you as you settle into your home and new neighborhood, and also as you celebrate your mom’s 60th!Cheers!(This salad, by the way, it feels like it was made just for me. All my favorite things!)

Liz @ The Lemon BowlApril 4, 2014 - 9:17 am

So happy for you both! This salad is everything I love in one bowl.

Brandon @ Kitchen KonfidenceApril 4, 2014 - 10:25 am

Congratulations on closing the house!! And good luck with the move – good call on hiring the movers. At some point you just have to stop asking friends/family to help, and pay for it instead ;)

This salad is a beauty! I love all the colors and flavors.

bev @ bevcooksApril 4, 2014 - 3:26 pm

This is the most BEAUTIFUL plate of food I can’t even breathe or see or sit still.

Greg HenryApril 4, 2014 - 7:48 pm

I came hoping for pics of your new house, but I’m glad for the info about the closing and (of course) happy to leave with squid salad. GREG

FrancescaApril 6, 2014 - 3:33 am

Congrats on closing out :) It’s a great feeling of closure and excitement, all wrapped up in one. These kind of sweet and savory thai dishes are super awesome, and this looks delicious :)

Jenny @ BAKEApril 6, 2014 - 10:12 am

Congratulations on your new home!! That’s such exciting news. This salad looks so fresh and delicious!

Toni | Boulder LocavoreApril 9, 2014 - 10:57 am

I’m playing a bit of blog post catch up and loved both reading of the latest chapter in your move and this gorgeous dish Brian. Though moving is alot of work I’ve always loved that feeling of beginning ‘a new’ with each place we’ve lived. Change is so exciting. Wishing you the best with the process and fun of settling in.

[...] spicy squid and mango salad. summer here we [...]

Averie @ Averie CooksApril 12, 2014 - 12:27 pm

Your images are always so sharp, clear & stunning! Pinned!

And congrats on closing on your house. What an amazing feeling and…happy decorating :)

Heidi @foodiecrushApril 14, 2014 - 1:48 pm

Congrats on the new digs! Ah, and now, to find the best light, right?? I love the freshness of this salad, and how much fun is squid to take pics of? All of those curlicues!

[...] From A Thought for Food: Spicy squid and mango salad [...]

DeniseApril 19, 2014 - 2:03 pm

Brian, this is a great salad, and screams summer. Mango and squid together is perfection in my opinion. By the way … killer bowls!